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Dodgy Tackle: Breaking news: Breakdancing set for the Olympic Games 30 years after its west Belfast heyday

Dodgy's mate Midge busts out a windmill circa 1985 in the shadow of Clonard Monastery with a shy British soldier and an awestruck mongrel for company
Picture courtesy of Sean Collins
Kevin Farrell

BACK in Dodgy’s day, when kids played outside the four walls and oilcloth designed by blind acid-heads wired to the moon was the flooring of choice in everyone’s gaff, breakdancing and body-popping were actual and legitimate pastimes.

The early-mid ’80s was a serious time to be pre-pubescent and breathing fresh-ish air on the smouldering corners of western Belfast and, no doubt, other solar systems in the galaxy.

A highly flammable tracksuit – strictly not shell – despite never being more than 12 square feet away from somebody’s da’s petrol and milk bottle collection, remained the essential get-up.

An off-cut of the hall or scullery’s old/new flooring, a double-deck ghettoblaster and a crackly pirate copy of Hey You by Bronx breakers The Rock Steady Crew was what truly separated the official B-Boys and Girls from the, er, provisional B-Boys and Girls.

Multi-coloured broad wool laces in a pair of Patrick Ewings or British (mutter it soft) Knights or, mainly, battered Sizzlers, plus your gold-standard polyester Nike Windrunner hoody, completed the classic Straight Outta Leisureworld look.

Even if, like Dodgy, you weren’t quite blessed with the optimal musco-skeletal genetic profile to be deemed a serious operator on the feisty ‘battle’ front, other options beckoned. The whole shebang was non-discriminatory like that in what were fairly discriminatory times.

Every windmiller worth his talc always needed a strong body-popping crew. It meant the less flexible among us could toprock-cum-wobble without (much) prejudice on the fringe of a heroic mate’s 8x8 beat.

Twitching like a bloated Peter Crouch/Kay three hours into a piles prescription while they diced with paralysis to out-break some wiry wee slabber from a different block, or district as it was called then by OCs and MCs alike, was a sadly under-rated talent.

Alas, 30-odd winters down the track, things have changed and then some. Ugly lino has replaced ugly oilcloth in our fractured country’s skips and bins. The ghettoblasters are now on display in the Ulster Museum. And we no longer look like the mutant offspring of a one night stand between a TK Maxx sale rack and your ma’s autumn-winter Freeman’s catalogue.

Not always, anyway.

What’s more, breakdancing – ‘breaking’ to the cognoscenti – is currently under serious consideration to turn the Olympics circus on its steroid-addled head and could make its bow at the 2024 Games in France.

Paris organisers have decided to put forward breaking alongside climbing, skateboarding and surfing – all of which are already confirmed for exhibition in Tokyo 2020 – for final approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December next year.

With the likes of pitch-and-toss, keepy-uppys, lampost-swinging, water-fights and lorry-hopping obviously not quite ready for the greatest pantomime on earth just yet, the surprise inclusion of breaking has still warmed the cockles of many with Old Skool (clean) blood frog-hopping through their Varicose veins.

The surprise announcement, however, hasn’t gone down all that well in some quarters.

The sniffly squash and needy karate brethren, for example, reckon they’re being crowded out of the picture yet again.

The news of their latest snub in favour of breaking has this week been couched as “heart-breaking”, pardon the pun, by Keir Worth, the head honcho of English Squash.

Mr Miyagi, meanwhile, was unavailable for comment, while Daniel Son LaRusso is understood to have sighed ‘there was always the World Car Waxing Championships’.

Former squash word champion Nick Matthews then weighed into the back-biting, leading calls for a legal challenge to the decision and calling it a devastating blow for squash.

“We should have been part of the Olympic movement years ago, certainly from London 2012,” whined Nick about the rich man’s Racquetball played badly after work on Fridays by stressed-out, fancy-car-owning, forty-something professional glypes.

“It’s all very frustrating and I don’t see anything that will change if we carry on doing the same things. Sports are being pulled from left field now... blahdy blah blah.”

Left field? Nick obviously missed the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires when the breakdancing event drew huge crowds around Argentina’s most select squares of oilcloth and was deemed a blazing success. Word.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone (inset), a Buenos Aires native to his jet-black toe-nails, clearly didn’t lick that midweek crotch-clutching Champions League shtick off the cobbles.

Judges in Argentina, including British breaker Kevin Gopie – whom I can confirm isn’t this slabber with or without a hyphen between ‘o’ and ‘p’ – used iPads to review each 40-60 second performance on a sliding scale in three categories; physical, artistic and creative attributes.

‘Kev the Renegade’, as he prefers to be known (I’ll be having that), has been heavily involved in the British breaking scene since his own early ’80s heyday.

Yet with his best efforts, and presumably his scalp, hips, knees, shoulders and wrists, now well and truly behind him the 49-year-old told The Daily Telegraph: “People try and disrespect and say ‘we might as well have tiddlywinks’, but I would put the fitness and athleticism of a B-Boy or B-Girl against any of these sports any day.

“It is as much a sport as anything else, it’s athletic, it has rules, it has judges. I don’t think sport is limited to running and jumping.

“We have incredible people here, we just need facilities. We have got a new generation coming – we could be contenders.”

You might think that now, Kev. But show me a single GB&NI breaker who could bust out 14 windmills on the spin on a footpath facing Clonard Monastery with the petrified British Army afraid to look and a local body-popping mongrel looking on in absolute awe circa 1985 and we’ll start talking about ‘contenders’.

Dodgy’s mate Midge may well be hitting his mid-forties, but if there’s a gold medal and an Ireland tracksuit up for grabs here, his or your ma’s best oilcloth remnants could be getting waxed as we speak. You heard it here first.

Hopefully Midge’s body-popping massif can pick up a medal too in his slipstream, Kev, know what I’m sayin’ mo chara?

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